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Treatment of difficult epilepsy
  1. A McTague,
  2. R Appleton
  1. Roald Dahl EEG Unit, Department of Neurology, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust
  1. Correspondence to Amy McTague, Roald Dahl EEG Unit, Department of Neurology, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Eaton Road, Liverpool L12 2AP, UK; amy.mctague{at}


Most of the epilepsies that occur in children are relatively straightforward to manage, including suppression of the seizures. However, in at least 30% of children, seizures will not be fully controlled by one or two antiepileptic drugs (AEDs); these children may also have additional physical, educational or behavioural problems. This population is often labelled as having a “difficult” or an “intractable” epilepsy. The approach to these children must always begin with ensuring that the diagnosis of epilepsy is accurate, that the correct seizure type or types and epilepsy syndrome have been identified and that an underlying cause has been considered. Treatment must be holistic, considering the child as a person and not just someone having seizures; the AED regimen must be appropriate and not excessive; and surgery must always be considered a viable option.

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  • AM and RA have equally contributed to the article.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Competing interests None.

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